Saturday, June 21, 2008

Suggested Letter to Candidates

I have typically advised against sending letters to political candidates.

On the issue of 'under God' and 'In God We Trust', in particular, a candidate who takes whateve Political candidates are going to tell the people what the people want to hear, and the people do not want to hear that there is something objectionable in 'under God' in the Pledge and 'In God We Trust' in the motto.

However, we may be able to do something that will tone down the political reaction to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision when it comes out.

I have looked up my local county party web sites where there is a list of candidates for public office. I am then sending those candidates that I judge might be receptive to the arguments the following email:


In the next few days, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will release their decisions on whether 'under God' in the Pledge and 'In God We Trust' as the national motto violate the Constitution.

I would like to take a short piece of your time to give you some facts about these policies.

If you look at history, the reason 'under God' was added to the Pledge of Allegiance was to keep atheists out of public office and, in general, to promote public animosity towards atheists. This happened in 1954, during the McCarthy era. Their specific target was atheist communists, but they actually targeted all atheists.

You already know that 'under God' serves as a gate to keep certain 'undesirables' from winning a seat in government. You have seen it in the way that the LIE told about Obama's refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance is enough to threaten his campaign. You can imagine the effect it would have on any candidate's chances of winning an election if that candidate were to actually refuse to say the Pledge.

The American Sociological Association reports that Americans see atheists as the least trusted minority - the group that they see as least sharing their American values. This is not at all surprising when schools teach children that those American values include 'one nation under God'.

They learn these values starting on the first day of school, when a government teacher stands in front of them and tells them that there are four values that run opposite to what all good American support; atheism, rebellion, tyranny, and injustice for all.

Atheists (or at least those unwilling to lie about their beliefs) are now entirely blocked from public office. Over half of the population says that they would not vote for an atheist candidate.

Allowing students (and others) to sit out the Pledge at all does not mitigate the harm done. This is typically interpreted as, "Students have freedom of speech, and this means they are free to hold anti-American values if they want to. In opting out of the Pledge, they are certainly showing disrespect for everything good in this country, but one of those good things is freedom to treat this country with contempt."

Besides, the message is still there for those who stay behind and who do say the Pledge. They learn the government's message that links patriotism to 'one nation under God' and links atheism with being unpatriotic. Denying this is as absurd as denying that the Pledge links support for liberty and justice to patriotism.

In fact, having atheists conspicuously sit out the Pledge reinforces the lesson that atheists cannot be good and patriotic Americans. Rather than mitigating the harm, their exclusion adds to the harm.

Setting up a Pledge of Allegiance to serve as a locked door to keep (honest) atheists out of public office is not at all consistent with American democratic values. Teaching bigotry to young children - teaching them that people who do not support 'one nation under God' are just as bad as those who do not support 'liberty and justice for all' - is not a proper school function.

You know how successful this campaign against atheists has been at promoting bigotry against atheists. You know it by what it would cost you politically to endorse the facts that I have written about. That is proof enough that what I write is true.

The question is: Are we going to continue to promote bigotry as a core American value? Are we going to continue to continue to teach children that the four most important American values are religous bigotry, union, and liberty and justice for all?

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